The Veolia Environmental Trust is a grant-maker that was established in 1997 by the landfill operator Veolia after the government introduced the Landfill Communities Fund. The LCF is a tax credit scheme in which landfill operators give money to not-for-profit environmental bodies to fund projects that restore the natural environment and benefit communities living near landfill sites.
Paul Taylor, managing director of the trust, says it gives between £4m and £5m a year to community and voluntary sector organisations.
Under regulations attached to the LCF, the trust can fund projects to reduce pollution, remediate land, improve public amenities, maintain biodiversity and restore historic and religious buildings.
Organisations that apply to its quarterly funding rounds request the amount they need. Grants range from £1,000 to £100,000; in the latest round, the trust's board awarded 77 grants totalling £2.5m. Taylor says the average grant is £27,000, but in recent months he has seen a rise in the number of applications for grants of more than £85,000.
He says the trust has also seen a "massive increase" in applications generally. "I think it must be because of the general economic climate and a lack of funds out there," he says.
Taylor says the trust funds not-for-profit groups around the UK, ranging from villages building community halls to national charities such as the RSPB and the Woodland Trust.
"We want community involvement, so we like to see evidence of need and applications that relate to community projects rather than, say, local authorities deciding they want to improve play areas," he says. "We focus on deprived areas and we like to see volunteers being used so they can learn new skills, such as planting hedges or laying paths."
Projects must be sustainable and secure planning permissions before funding applications are made. A recent project included a £40,000 grant to the Jarvis Brook Community Association in East Sussex for a skate bowl using the natural landscape.